Many people have no interest in the name Jesus, except perhaps as a curse word. They have no interest in Jesus as a Savior, they have not experienced Jesus’ power to change their lives, and they may even question whether Jesus really is who He says He is—but they still find the sound of His name to be a convenient interjection when they are surprised or angry. So they choose to profane the name of the incarnate God, who came to save us from our sins.
Yet it is not only the obvious offenders who profane Jesus’ name. Many people feel some respect for the name of Jesus, but their lives are busy, and so Jesus is ultimately sidelined. After all, there are places to go, people to meet, money to be earned, bills to be paid, and children to be raised. Jesus is just one of many obligations, and certainly not their chief desire. People thus have little awareness that they need to be saved at all, and they ignore the testimony of Jesus’ own name: that He has come to save them.
Still others are lost in their desire to have an open mind. They want to be inclusive citizens who never offend their neighbors. But in the process, their open minds have closed their hearts to belief. The goal of complete inclusivity does not mesh well with the message that “there is no other name … by which we must be saved.” Such men and women prefer to keep Jesus at the margin as one of many wise teachers who can show the way to a better life. While they may think they honor Him, they deny the very meaning of Jesus’ name by denying the world’s need for His salvation.
It is not only the obvious offenders who profane Jesus’ name.
Surprisingly, even professing Christians can defile the name of Jesus with their pious routines that lack the substance of faith in the risen Lord. When people go about religious duties, calling themselves Christians, but their lives have not been changed and they have no intimate awareness of Jesus, they take His name in vain (Ex. 20:7). To be a Christian is not simply to perform the good works and religious ceremonies that the Bible prescribes. It is rather to be united to Christ by grace through faith. Consequently, it’s a great profanity to invoke the Savior’s name while at the same time denying its testimony by seeking to save oneself through good works.
This article was adapted from the sermon “The Name of Jesus” by Alistair Begg.